Understanding where you are most likely to be attacked and knowing how to ratchet up your alertness level appropriately is a key component of personal protection — probably the key component.

You can’t walk around hyper-alert in condition orange all the time.  You’ll be exhausted and at some point – probably pretty quickly – it will become counterproductive.

Whether you are an at-risk person who may be specifically target for attack, kidnapping or some other crime for whatever reason or whether you are – like most of us – more likely to be the victim of an opportunistic crime you should recognize that you are more vulnerable and the likelihood is greater at certain locations and at certain times.

I’ll exclude mentioning the more obvious places and times like late at night and in a bad neighborhood or secluded area — although of course these are places and times that call for heightened vigilance.

Here are some of the times when you should avoid distraction and focus on your environment:

Arrivals and departures:  whether you are leaving or arriving your home, office, supermarket, gym, shopping mall, etc. you should take a moment to look around and observe the people and vehicles in the area and assess if anyone might present a threat to you.  This is particularly true if you are entering or exiting a vehicle.

Boarding Mass Transportation:  when stepping on to a subway car, bus or even an aircraft cabin you should look at your fellow travelers and assess which ones, if any might present a potential threat.

Areas where you are channelized or your options for maneuver or movements are restricted: These might be bridges, narrow roads with a blind curve, etc.  Often referred to as chokepoints these are locations that are well suited for ambush-style attacks.

Identified Danger Areas:  these are locations that have a past history of violent or criminal incidents occurring.  In some overseas locations where civil unrest and rioting are practically the national pastime these can be focal points where crowds form or protests regularly occur.

The above list is far from exhaustive but should give you a good starting point.

When in these locations you should put away the ear buds, the iPhone and  whatever other distractions away, stop compiling the shopping list or planning your weekend and focus on the environment around you – in particular people or things that might cause you harm.

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